A Friend Called Banno

She sits on a rock gazing into the hollow, and in her eyes flashes the story of not one but two lives. A true survivor herself, she hails from a place where her sisters’ voices once resounded in the marshy meadows, but in the now quiet grasses she remains restfully as of the type whom the spotlight seldom spots, the doters rarely seek and the seekers rarely find. When met with fortuitously, she will not pour her heart out at a private tête-à-tête as hypnotic stripes that turn the landscape into a warp hide her struggle that entails the loss of a legendary mother at the equivalent of an age when the only attributable quality of even the most finely destined of men would be rank helplessness.

But the steely gaze reveals a plucky character who awakens us to yet another facet of the utterly magical lives of tigers, of which man, who wears his crown of accomplishments heavily on a buoyant head, is yet to scratch the surface. It tells of a phenomenon, of a revelation, of a tigress giving solace and companionship at a time of another tiger’s crisis, when, embattled by his parents’ hostility and unveiled signals of rejection and eviction, Kallu would frequently revel in her company for succour before the liaison flowered into romance and procreation.

The scientific-minded will pedantically term it pre-courtship behaviour, or the result of post-adolescence adventure, but to try to encapsulate the universe and all its powers into the nutshell of science is an eminently occupying but appallingly futile endeavour whose objective might be a genuine quest for novel knowledge but whose methods are often hamstrung by an approach that is impecunious in intuition and lead us to make rash assertions to the effect that tigers, as many other animals, don’t live as much as “survive” and hang about as permanent members of the feed-and-breed coalition. Consequently, to a tiger’s repertoire of relationships we emphatically refuse to attach what is ostensibly such a “human” concept as friendship but such bigotry evokes pathos.

“In the courts of spiritual equanimity,” says Old Hag, “such an esoteric definition of friendship would in fact not only be arrantly myopic but also downright unfair and in stark contradiction to man’s crusades about egalitarianism, which conveniently seem to not apply to other creatures who are foolishly considered to be intellectually inferior.”

But what heartens is that none of this matters so much as a rodent’s posterior.

What does a cat care if her obvious emotional and general intelligence are ignored by a mere man? She is, and will remain, a book whose pages we can only hope to turn in time, but when like a snake, our subjects themselves peel the layers of their intricate character by will and not by vulgar force.
She is, and will remain, a friend in need. She is a friend called Banno.

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